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Burundi - Summer 2011

Undisclosed Location July 28 - August 7, 2011

For a number of years, Howard Foreman has gone to Burundi to work with a growing network of pastors who have no theological training. On this trip the team will be focused on expository preaching and inductive bible study.

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Burundi - Summer 2011

Aug  5th,  2011Finishing

The last two days have been quite packed and hectic. At the end of the teaching time on Thursday, we were able to finally complete our (elementary) study of the book of Romans. We went chapter by chapter looking at the main ideas and important principles.  There were definitely some complicated points. But what I have found is that the majority of their questions come NOT so much from an inability to understand the passage, but a conflict with their previously held strange ideas of the Bible. It seems that many do not know how to discern truth from error. I asked a Burundian leader and pastor (he was not a part of our classes) how the Burundians determine what is ‘truth;’ how do they determine if what someone says is the truth? The answer was that they base it on the qualities of the man and the size of his following. That is why there are so many strange doctrines and mixtures of doctrines and teachings.

They seemed very attentive to the teachings of Romans (I still had to deal with a ton of questions everyday) and time will tell as to what sticks. Another big problem is that many just do not read the Bible, even those who can do it easily.) So because they do not read it, they almost blindly trust anyone who teaches anything about it.
On Friday I have the morning to teach part of Galatians (that’s all we’re going to be able to do) and I leave Friday night for Scotland to connect with speak in the church we were at while in Aberdeen. I am looking forward to that time with the Scots. I head back to California after that.
Thanks for your prayers and encouragements. I sense it immensely here in Burundi. There is much to do here.

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Aug  3rd,  2011Hectic

Well the last two days have been packed and hectic. We are settling now into a routine, still packed but not so unstable.
Sunday was a day at church. Pastor Charles and his community of churches were opening and dedicating a new church in the capital, Bujumbura. It was a huge building, three stories on one side with a balcony, huge open center worship area. The day started at 9 am and was filled with this dedication ceremony. There were probably 850-900 people there with lots of dignitaries: the Bishop of the Free Methodist churches and other leaders from other denominations. We were also blessed to have several political people there including the Secretary for Solidarity and Reconciliation. Lots of people and lots of activities. Singing galore!
At 2 pm Charles asked me to preach! (did you catch the times on this? We started at 9 am and I was called up to preach at 2 pm!) I and a few others had been sitting on the stage in front of the congregation for 5 Hours!!It was probably 100 degrees, no air circulation. I was drenched under my sports coat and I hadn't even done anything! I just wanted to close in prayer, not preach, but Charles suggested that it would be a great encouragement for the church. I took my normal 45 min. sermon and boiled it down to a bare 15 minutes (including translation) and prayed. (I basically closed the ceremony.)
Then we left for our 2 1/2 hour serpentine drive up to Gitega for a week of training pastors. I was exhausted.
Today we began our studies in Romans and Galatians. (Now I wonder why I chose BOTH books??) I spent the first session of 4 horus just answering their questions and showing them how the answers were in Romans. the afternoon session lasted another 3 hours and we began our study. Are we going to finish? Not sure, but we'll do our best.
Thanks for praying for me. Please continue through friday; that it would be a profitable time for the pastors and then their churches. Most of these pastors have a lot of strange ideas and theologies. A mixture of everything under the "name of Jesus." It would make you both laugh and cry.

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Jul  30th,  2011Youth

The last two days have been interesting--a combination of ministry activities and preparation activities. The latter were just things that needed to be done before Sunday where there will be a big inauguration of a big new church in Bujumbura. The former (ministry activities) focused on the youth convention.
This was the first time Pastor Charles had organized a youth convention. Youth came from Bujumbura and surrounding areas and from Gitega. There were a little less than 100 in attendance.  I spoke on Friday and on Saturday, first on "Three reasons we are to serve God" and on Saturday, "How  to serve God." Many of the youth don't think they can serve in the church, so I  challenged them that they can. Other topics given by other speakers included "Seeking the glory of God" and "The importance of Sunday School." I think this is a beginning of a new ministry for the churches that Pastor Charles oversees.
Sunday will be a packed day. Church where I will be preaching and all the protocol of opening a new church: blessings, commissionings, dedications, etc. Then in the afternoon we head up the dangerous, serpentine road toGitega. I probably won't be able to write again until after the first Pastor Training session on Monday.

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Jul  29th,  2011Made it

I made it safe to Bujumbura, Burundi. The trip had a lot less layovers than before. Instead of taking 37 hours, it only took 27 hours!! There was only a two hour layover in Amsterdam (instead of the normal 9 hour) and only 3 hours in Nairobi (instead of 5). So I went from plane to plane with very little time, especially in Amsterdam. The down side was I was very tired of traveling almost non-stop.
I arrived at my hotel at 1 am on Wednesday morning and slept for almost 11 hours. that day all I did was relax. Charles came to see me and greet me which was a warm welcome. He is very busy with the preparations of the youth convention that is on Friday and Saturday. I will be teaching each morning at 9 am local time (midnight CA time), so pray for me before you go to bed that my words will speak to the hearts of the christian young people. I will be speaking on "Why and How Should a Christian Serve God."
On Sunday we will inaugurate a new church in Bujumbura that Pastor Charles has built. It will be a big event--African style! And it should be a lot of fun. Monday starts the classes in Gitega. Several pastors already told Charles that they will NOT miss the bible teaching classes short of death. It is exciting to hear of their zeal.
I'll send more reports later.

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